Fluor takes $400m hit over Greater Gabbard

Dispute has "no effect" on Seagreen joint venture

US-headquartered engineering contractor, Fluor, has failed in its efforts to claim £300m from the owners of the 500MW Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm in UK waters. The company says its fourth-quarter (Q4) results will include an approximate $400m pre-tax charge relating to the dispute.

Fluor has been the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for Greater Gabbard, working on behalf of the joint venture created by the project owners, SSE (50%) and RWE npower renewables (50%).

Commenting on the decision of a dispute arbitration panel, which ruled against Fluor, the company’s chief executive, David Seaton, said: "Fluor delivered a quality project, and we are extremely disappointed with this unexpected decision, especially considering recent statements that acknowledge that all 140 turbines are commissioned and exporting electricity, and the overall performance is more than 10 percent ahead of the client’s expectations."

SSE insists that concerns remain about the quality of up to 52 transition pieces and up to 35 lower foundations (monopiles). These have prompted the project operator, Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds Ltd, to maintain "access restrictions" around the 52 turbines. Negotiations with Fluor about the quality issues are expected to continue "well into 2013", says SSE.

Greater Gabbard has been fully operational since the end of September 2012.

"No impact" on Seagreen jv

The ongoing dispute – and initial ruling against Fluor – "has no impact" on SSE’s and Fluor’s collaboration to develop offshore wind farms in the Firth of Forth, an SSE spokesperson told Windpower Offshore.

Last month, SSE and Fluor – via their Seagreen joint venture - submitted plans for two offshore wind farms with a combined capacity of more than 1GW. Submission of crucial consent applications "demonstrate" that the Greater Gabbard dispute is not having an adverse effect on the two companies’ development of the Firth of Forth zone, said the spokesperson.